Consequences of disasters

We study the effects of disasters over different time frames.

Billowing clouds of ash from erupting volcano
Clouds of ash from Mount Sinabung, Indonesia. Photo: Yosh Ginsu, Unsplash

Time frames of disasters

Damage is measured over three time frames: immediate, short term, and long term. The Chair in the Economics of Disasters and Climate Change studies these damages and losses, with the aim of quantifying different types of losses.

Immediate damages

Immediate or direct damages might include fatalities, injuries, physical damage to assets or ecosystems, or displacement of populations. In the months and years following a disaster, we aim to estimate the determinants of these damages at various scales.

Short-term economic consequences

Some of our research focuses on nationwide macroeconomic impacts. For example, a study on the 2011 Christchurch earthquake found relatively small nationwide macroeconomic effects. This suggests that the national response was effective and that the more significant impact was found at the regional/local level. Other macroeconomic work from our researchers focuses on the regional effects.

Taking an international focus, we studied the regional effects of disasters in other countries in Asia and the Pacific. We found that prompt investment in post-disaster reconstruction tended to limit the adverse regional effects on economic growth to the first year.

Short-term microeconomic studies

Our researchers aren’t only macro-economists. For example, one of our studies focused on healthcare costs resulting from extreme weather. This Sri Lankan case study found significant health risks from frequently occurring floods and droughts. The health risks were experienced by whole communities, not just by those directly affected by the event. Healthcare costs from these events were significant. We estimate $19 million per year is spent on healthcare costs associated with flood and drought events in Sri Lanka.

Longer-term consequences

In the long term, wellbeing is affected by disasters. Our study of a managed retreat program following the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 investigated impacts on quality of life, stress, and emotional well-being. for a large sample of residents who were part of the Residential Red Zone programme which affected around 20,0000 people.